"Of course you recall the nursery rhyme each Earthchild learns, to help remember the Orders of Life — Oh How My Reality Tricks Me Easily — a mnemonic that's philosophically useful as well as handy." — "the 7 known orders of life in the Uplift universe"

DAVID BRIN's Contacting Aliens

Bantam, 2002

Created around the wonderful drawings of Minneapolis artist Kevin Lenagh, this book makes more vivid nearly a hundred of the alien and Earthling species that appear in David Brin's Uplift novels. Here in the form of a handbook for Terran field agents is a detailed look at Uplift's many alien races — from the friendly Tymbrimi to the warlike Tandu, from the wise and enigmatic Kanten to the fiercely reptilian Soro, from the bureaucratic Hoon to the manipulative Thennanin — their physiology, psychology, history; their clans and alliances; and their shifting attitudes toward Earth and its representatives.

Scroll down to view illustrations from CONTACTING ALIENS.

it's a dangerous universe... but somebody has to run it

Here, too, is a history of Earth's contact and challenging interactions with the mysterious and powerful Civilization of Five Galaxies, a look at its institutions, languages, and customs, plus a time line of momentous events going back 3 billion years.

For the millions of fans of the Uplift novels, this long-awaited guide will be an essential reference work, filled with vital information and never-before-seen illustrations that reveal, for the first time in one volume, the keys to the ambitious vision and bold speculation of the Uplift universe.

the Uplift series

The stirring saga that begins with Sundiver continues in Startide Rising, and climaxes in The Uplift War.

A second uplift series begins with Brightness Reef, continues with Infinity's Shore, and concludes with Heaven's Reach.

Is Existence: an uplift "prequel"? In many ways, yes. David Brin's bold newest novel explores the ultimate question: Billions of planets may be ripe for life, even intelligence. So where is Everybody?

uplifted short stories

These three stories are set in the uplift universe. Learn more about all of Brin's shorter fiction here.

  • In "Aficionado" (an excerpt from Existence), Hacker Sander is spoiled, temperamental and a champion rock-jock ... till a crash lands him in lethal peril. His sole hope? A tribe of strangely savvy sea creatures, with a secret need of their own. Read for free here.
  • In "Temptation" (included in the newest story collection, Insistence of Vision), a female dolphin on Jijo — on the run from two predatory males — stumbles into a deeply dangerous ancient secret. Read chapter 1 for free here.
  • In "Gorilla, My Dreams," chimpanzees and dolphins are helping humans choose the next species for uplift when powerful alien starships arrive to wipe out all life on Earth. (This story is sold on Apple's iBook, Amazon's Kindle (#AmazonCommissionsEarned), and Smashwords.)

  • illustrations from Contacting Aliens

    Xap trader approaching space elevator

    Xap trader approaching space elevator

    The odd thing about the proto-Xap homeworld was its lack of animal life. We suspect that the Xap ravaged all other mobile species to extinction. When pressed, the Xatinni admit that proto-Xap were heading into cannibalism when Uplift rescued them. Approach business dealings with them by preplanning favors and responses for the next several years.

    Rothen at a state function

    Rothen at a state function

    In the presence of potential converts, Rothen seem earnest and caring — like proud, endlessly patient parents of precocious children who still have a long way to go in order to achieve a grand destiny. But if a Rothen realizes that he is talking to a skeptic, or a Terragen official, he will exit the scene in great haste, vanishing with uncanny thoroughness and speed.

    Rothen colony world

    Rothen colony world

    Their sparse Library entry shows lineage predating almost every existing race in known space, but this information is almost universally discredited as a ruse, implanted during the last wave of data plagues. Rothen go on to profess that they subtly influence almost every sociopolitical arena, while keeping themselves aloof from the normal bustle of galactic life.

    Brothers surfacing in archology colony

    Brothers surfacing in archology colony

    Brothers (a term used for both males and females) were uplifted by the Nighthunters, who made up their own splinter sect of the Awaiter Alliance. The Nighthunters took this brutal species of cunning pre-sapients and fostered them into sophisticated and formidable beings with an unfortunate proclivity for forming fanatical cults. There are hints that the Nighthunters' intent was to create decent competition (or prey) for secret predatory rites. According to this rumor, the Nighthunters promised the Brothers ascension to full liberty on the day they managed to conquer their patrons.

    Apparently, the Brothers succeeded.

    Ot'ahh gaming

    Ot'ahh gaming

    Extrapolating from their great-grandclients, the Gubru, Ot'ahh would have been rigid xenophobes. But they appear in Galactic records as one of the Six Hero Races that vanished with the Tarseuh after routing the "lions." If you bump into one, it means the Six Hero Races are coming back and all hell is going to break loose. This would be almost as startling as the Progenitors showing up at your door to sell Amway products.

    Paimin in a marketplace

    Paimin in a marketplace

    Paimin seem well adapted to serve as delegates for the Thennanin. They portray a stoic poker-face, then suddenly appear puppy-dog friendly, often taking you off guard. Alliance or no alliance, watch yourself around Paimin. They are smarter than they look.

    a brief intro to science fiction author DAVID BRIN

    To learn more, visit his books page, or see his "about me" page or detailed biography.

    DAVID BRIN author


    David Brin's science fiction novels have been New York Times Bestsellers, winning multiple Hugo, Nebula and other awards. At least a dozen have been translated into more than twenty languages. They range from bold and prophetic explorations of our near-future to Brin's Uplift series, envisioning galactic issues of sapience and destiny (and star-faring dolphins!). Learn More

    shorter fiction

    Short stories and novellas have different rhythms and artistic flavor, and Brin's short stories and novellas, several of which earned Hugo and other awards, exploit that difference to explore a wider range of real and vividly speculative ideas. Many have been selected for anthologies and reprints, and most have been published in anthology form. Learn More

    Contrary Brin blog

    Since 2004, David Brin has maintained a blog about science, technology, science fiction, books, and the future — themes his science fiction and nonfiction writings continue to explore. Learn More

    social media influencer

    Who could've predicted that social media — indeed, all of our online society — would play such an important role in the 21st Century — restoring the voices of advisors and influencers! Lively and intelligent comments spill over onto Brin's social media pages. Learn More

    DAVID BRIN scientist


    David Brin's Ph.D in Physics from the University of California at San Diego (the lab of nobelist Hannes Alfven) followed a masters in optics and an undergraduate degree in astrophysics from Caltech. Every science show that depicts a comet now portrays the model developed in Brin's PhD research. Learn More

    transparency expert

    Brin's non-fiction book, The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Freedom and Privacy?, continues to receive acclaim for its accuracy in predicting 21st Century concerns about online security, secrecy, accountability and privacy. Learn More

    speaker & consultant

    Brin speaks plausibly and entertainingly about trends in technology and society to audiences willing to confront the challenges that our rambunctious civilization will face in the decades ahead. He also talks about the field of science fiction, especially in relation to his own novels and stories. To date he has presented at more than 200 meetings, conferences, corporate retreats and other gatherings.Learn More

    future/tech advisor

    Brin advises corporations and governmental and private defense- and security-related agencies about information-age issues, scientific trends, future social and political trends, and education. Urban Developer Magazine named him one of four World's Best Futurists, and he was appraised as "#1 influencer" in Onalytica's Top 100 report of Artificial Intelligence influencers, brands & publications. Past consultations include Google, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, and many others. Learn More

    Contacting BRIN

    All the Ways in the World to Reach David Brin

    an ornery, contrary BLOG, and other insightful wormholes!

    Do not enter if you want a standard "Party" line! Contrary Brin's incendiary posts on science, sci-fi and politics and its engaged, opinionated community poke at too-rigid orthodoxies, proposing ideas and topics that fascinate — and infuriate. See for yourself, and if you like — subscribe for more.

    Questions? Concerns? Email DAVID BRIN at


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